In a man who may additionally well turn out to be the island’s first Turkish Cypriot MEP, THEO PANAYIDES reveals a fiery, lengthy-time supporter of a united Cyprus. How far he’ll development depends on next Sunday’s vote
Looking again, it becomes never going to be smooth. It’s 9 am on a Monday, and Niyazi Kizilyurek is in a mad rush. “I actually have a marketing campaign,” he notes alternatively brusquely at the give up, after I wonder what’s next – and it’s real, he does, being many of the six Akel applicants (a tremendous case of a Greek Cypriot birthday celebration fielding a Turkish Cypriot candidate) status in next Sunday’s Euro-elections. At one point he stops to take a smartphone call from Antenna, inviting him to appear on a TV panel in a couple of days. A few hours later I see him on Sigma, taking component in yet another panel with two MEP candidates from Diko and Disy.
Our interview has been rather unwell-fated. We were because of meet on Friday but he become detained, leaving me to sit out of doors his workplace at the University of Cyprus perusing vintage Turkish guide books from the 80s (“In the arena gastronomy list, the Turkish Cuisine comes 1/3 following the French Cuisine and the Chinese Cuisine,” says the phase on ‘Dining’, list “grilled bastard-mackerel” a few of the neighborhood cuisine), so we rescheduled for Monday morning. He became very well mannered on Friday, sending a person to explain that he become going for walks past due and agreeing to pose for a photograph – however he appears impatient these days, even bad-tempered. He pauses for another telephone call, and (though he declines to mention who he was speaking to, or what approximately) his tone sounds decidedly fed-up. I’m not amazed after I see him arguing heatedly on Sigma later, getting into but every other of these needless TV skirmishes – in this example angering Katerina Christofidou of Diko by allegedly “equating” Greece and Turkey – that function clickbait for TV-channel websites and allow politicians to preen in public.
He unlocks the door of his workplace, panting slightly from having walked up to the 3 flights of stairs to the Department of Turkish Studies. He looks suit for his age, a shaven-headed 60-year-vintage with a stern, owlish functions. He sits in a chair beside the desk, restlessly raring to begin – however doesn’t take off his shades, a signal of a person who’s now not too invested inside the assembly and doesn’t plan to linger very lengthy anyway. His English is extremely good (he speaks five languages, additionally which includes French and German) but now not, I suspect, quite as fluent as his Greek, let alone his native Turkish.
Looking returned, there are numerous motives why it turned into by no means going to be smooth – but every other purpose is that Niyazi (at the least in public) is a risky man on the first-class of instances, recognized for being fiery and combative. Is it truthful to mention he has that recognition? “Maybe, sure,” he allows. “Because I, at a completely younger age, commenced wondering and writing. I suggest, I published my first book 35 years in the past. Because I changed into tough Greek and Turkish nationalism, and of course which means a fight” – he says the phrase in the French way, with a silent ‘t’ – “with the aid of itself. So it’s been very tough. I have been attacked by the regime of [Rauf] Denktash over a few years. I had difficulties with Greek Cypriot nationalism after I came to university. So I discover myself within the center of a fight both manner.”
Does he ever have trouble whilst he crosses to the occupied regions?
“We should differentiate epochs,” he points out. “I imply, till 2003-04, it changed into very difficult, my life. First of all, I become no longer allowed to cross the Line and notice my family. I became compelled to fly always from Larnaca to Athens, then Istanbul and North Cyprus.”
“Because of what? Passport problems?” It is, I think, an as an alternative lame element to ask – however I don’t recognize the specifics, and I’m looking to spark off him extra than something.
Niyazi chuckles, a scathing laugh mixed with a snort. “No, it changed into a political obstacle. It was Denktash’s regime punishing me no longer to cross the Line! What do you imply ‘passport issues’?” He shakes his head disbelievingly: “You have to Google a piece before we speak, eh?”
He’s right, of the path – though sincerely I did Google ‘a piece’. I did what I normally do, i.E. Test out the overall contours of a subject’s lifestyles and permit them to fill within the rest (that way I can be actually curious after they speak approximately themselves). Sometimes, of direction, it’s a rush-job, and I gather all the solutions earlier – but he confident me we’d have time to speak, as a minimum on Friday. We keep, increasingly awkwardly, Niyazi getting antsy and sad and me seeking to elicit facts without seeming ignorant.
The fundamentals can indeed be found on Google. Born in 1959 in the village of Potamia, to a farming circle of relatives; moved in 1964 to the enclave of Louroujina – lots of Turkish Cypriots fled to ghettos after the violence of 1963 – where he remained for about seven years, basically cut off from the Greek Cypriot aspect. Studied at the University of Bremen, all of the way to a Ph.D. (his thesis become of course on the Cyprus hassle) – though, even earlier than completing his Doctorate in 1990, he became writing books and being “very active within the peace movement, I was always helping the idea of a united Cyprus. I got here to the Greek Cypriot aspect in 1988 and gave a lecture on ‘Oliki Kypros’” (‘Cyprus as a whole’). He joined the faculty on the University in 1995 and has been there ever considering, now a complete Professor and the writer of some two dozen books.
Tell me something, I ask, thinking lower back to his time in the enclave. When did you emerge as aware of a Turkish Cypriot identity as something separate – i.E. Over and above the Cypriot one?
Niyazi looks pained. “Well, there has been no ‘Cypriot’ identity amongst Turkish Cypriots anyway. The first identity is the Muslim one, and from the Muslim community of Cyprus, we advanced into Turkish Cypriots, and introduced Turkish nationalism… But I’m sorry to do this interview with you.”